Tuesday, December 30, 2014
A golden year for Russian military programmes
We could probably discuss for days about how much of a real danger Russia represents for Europe, but those who doubt of its resurgent military capability should probably take note that Russia in the year that is about to end has been making dramatic progress in its weapon programmes.
The navy's shipbuilding and refitting results for the year are good enough to openly talk about a golden period, and the plans are to speed up the process even more in the new year.
Air force deliveries have also been significant, and there is now a contract in place to upgrade a total of 110 Mig-31 interceptors. Deliveries of 129 Su-34 are underway (the first two batches of 5 and 32 have been completed, and in June the first 3 of 92 aircraft in the third batch were delivered). At least 37 Su-30SM should have been delivered to, and by 2016 they will be 65, with a possible order for 50 more to follow.
Deliveries of 48 Su-35 ordered in 2009 will be completed next year with the last batch of 14.
By 2017 there will be also 50 Mig-29SMT, while 79 Su-25 will have been modernized by the end of this year.
The army has not been forgotten either, with hundreds of helicopters being refurbished or newly produced, plus developments in armored vehicles, with work ongoing on the ARMATA concept which should be shown to the public in the new year.
Nuclear forces have even announced they have started a programme for putting into service new ICBM-launching trains, something that had fallen out of fashion with the end of the Cold War.
Conventionally armed Missile brigades are steadily being re-equiped with the Iskander M tactical ballistic missile and a new missile, the R-500 Iskander K, is in development, reportedly in breach of the INF treaty due to a range much superior to 500 km.
Keeping track of all russian programmes and deliveries isn't easy, but i want to write here a recap of the particularly impressive progresses in the Navy's programmes, particularly the submarines production.
This year the russian navy has finished overhauling the Delta IV-class submarine K-84 Ekaterinburg, and returned it to active service. That brings to 6 the number of Delta IV submarines refitted and overhauled, and all are operational with SINEVA missiles.
There are also 3 Delta III SSBNs still in service, with the SS-N-18 missile.
The building of the new SSBNs of the Borei class (Type 955 and 955A) is progressing: Yuriy Dolgorukiy and Aleksandr Nevskiy have been joined by Vladimir Monomach , commissioned on December 19.
That gives a fleet of 12 SSBNs, although the Borei are still not completely operational due to enduring difficulties with making their Bulava missiles reliable.
Knyaz Vladimir, first of the improved second batch (955A) is in build, and during 2014 Russia has started building 2 more: Knyaz Oleg had its keel laid down on July 27, and Knyaz Suvorov had its keel laid down December 26. We do not yet know exactly what improvements the 955A introduces: long running rumors of it having 20 instead of 16 missiles are not confirmed.
Over the course of next year Russia plans to lay down a further three Borei SSBN.
The first Yasen-class SSN (885M) Severodvinsk was commissioned this year. Kazan is in build and planned for delivery in 2016.
Novosibirsk was laid down in july 2013 and this year Russia laid down two more (Khabarovsk and Krasnoyarsk) on July 27.
Two more Yasen are planned to be laid down in the new year.
In december 2012 the Russian Navy signed a contract to overhaul, upgrade and reactivate the two Sierra I (945) submarines Karp and Kostroma. I don't know the current state of the programme, though.
The Russian Navy has this year commissioned the first of six Improved Kilo submarines (Project 636.3), all destined to the Black Sea Fleet. The submarine, named Novorossiysk, was commissioned on August 22.
The second boat in the class, the Rostov-on-Don, has been commissioned today [correction from earlier].
The third, Stary Oskoi, was launched on August 28, while the remaining three (Krasnodar, Veliky Novgorod and Kolpino) were laid down on february 20, october 30 and october 30 respectively.
One Lada class (677) submarine is in service and two more in build, and the Russian Navy has announced days ago that it is satisfied of its experimental AIP propulsion system, which is apparently due for insertion into a Lada submarine next year. Production in series is planned beginning in 2017, and earlier this year Russian Navy officers said a new class of SSK, a "5th generation" class to be known as Kalina, would be built with the AIP propulsion.
Not clear yet how the passage from Lada to Kalina will play out.
Surface fleet developments
The surface fleet has been getting new items as well. The Kirov-class battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov is now in refit and upgrade, and should return to service in 2018.
The second frigate of the Gorshkov class (Project 22350), Admiral Kasatonov, has been launched on December 12.
Golovko and Isakov are in build.
Two more frigates, of the Grigorovich class (Project 11356) are on the way: Admiral Grigorovich should have been delivered in November, and Admiral Essen has been launched the same month.
Admiral Makarov, Butakov, Istomin are in build and a further ship is planned, the Admiral Kornikov, for delivery by 2017.
One heavily armed Steregushchiy (Project 20380) corvette has been delivered this year, the Stoiky, in May.
Four ships have been delivered/are in service and four more are in build, including two
Greniyashchy (Project 20385), an improved of the 20380. The Russian Navy plans to build several more of these vessels, aiming to reach a total of 20, but orders have yet to be formalized.
The Russian Navy has launched a programme for 6 patrol ships, Project 22160, and laid down the first 2 (Vasily Bykov and Dmitry Rogachev) on february 26 and July 25 respectively.
A second amphibious ship of the Ivan Green class (Project 11711) has also been ordered and laid down this year, on december 4.
The brand new Submarine Rescue ship Igor Belousov has started its second round of contractor sea trials on December 25, and they should close by December 31.
And there is of course the thorny issue of the two Mistral class LHDs ordered in France, which might or might not be delivered at some point.
And i might be missing other elements. Not bad at all, for a single year!
In the new year, deliveries of 24 new Mig-29K (20 single seat K and 4 twin seaters KUB) for use on the aircraft carrier will be completed. The aircraft carrier itself, though, is one bit of a bad news as she is long overdue to go into a massive refit and overhaul programme which keeps slipping further away. Forays into the Mediterranean due to the Syrian crisis and conflicting schedules with the Kirovs' own docking needs have so far prevented the launch of the ambitious rebuilding the Russian Navy was planning a while ago.
The Russian Naval aviation is also receiving at least 12 new Su-30M, land based.
32 navalized Kamov Ka-52KM attack helicopters are ordered for use on the Mistrals. Deliveries have begun in september. 3 in total are being delivered this year, with 13 more due in 2015-16.
Not sure yet of what, if any impact the Mistral situation will have on this issue.
Six Be-200 seaplanes are on order, and one should have been delivered this year. They will be used to form two search and rescue squadrons of 3 aircraft each, one for the Pacific Fleet and one for Western Fleets.